States have begun relying on truckers to help stop the spreading of an invasive spotted lanternfly. The pest hitches rides on vehicles, threatening billions of dollars worth of commodities.
As the summer season finally kicks off, truckers are being lured into the fight to contain the pest. According to The Wall Street Journal, carriers picking up or delivering freight in quarantined parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia are being required to get permits certifying they have been trained to recognize and eliminate the insect. If a trucker doesn't carry the permit, they could be fined for not meeting the demands. In order to obtain the permit, commercial operators must take a free course, available online, on how to identify the pest and help prevent its spread. Companies must then train employees on practices such as vehicle inspection and how to remove living lanternflies.
The spotted lanternfly poses a unique threat, according to The Journal. The insect feeds on a range of crops, weakening plants and excreting a stick residue that draws other insects, allowing growth of sooty mold that can damage trees. Meanwhile, its destructive potential is driven by ability to travel on vehicles and the widespread availability of its host plant, a weed commonly known as the tree of heaven that grows widely in the Northeast U.S.
Transflo has upgraded its mobile app to help drivers prevent the spread of the insect, while other states of begun requiring certificates of inspection for travelers.